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Draft Memories: Jake Locker, Jason McCourty, Andy Levitre, Kamerion Wimbley

Posted Apr 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jake Locker’s experience with the NFL Draft shifted from avid football fan to active participant in 2011 when he was selected eighth overall by the Tennessee Titans.

The third-year pro is doing well in his recovery from shoulder surgery and preparing for his second year as starting quarterback. He said he plans to watch this year’s draft with curiosity and is excited to learn who will join him soon in the Titans locker room and possibly in the huddle.

“I’m just a fan of the game of football, so I’ve always watched the draft since they put it on TV and I could remember what’s going on,” Locker said. “I’ll do the same this year. Obviously, you’ve got a little more vested interest on certain picks now, but I’ll definitely pay attention to it and follow it. The pre-draft stuff not as much, (but) I’ll definitely watch the broadcast on TV.”

Reporters asked Locker and several teammates on Monday who they would select with the 10th pick, but each player yielded that responsibility to Titans general manager Ruston Webster.

“We did a good job in free agency to this point of bringing in guys that fit well with this team and are going to help us find ways to win more games, and I don’t expect anything different in the draft,” Locker said.

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, a sixth-round selection in 2009, had a much different experience in the draft than Locker and McCourty’s twin brother Devin, who stayed at Rutgers a year longer and was picked in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by New England.

“It’s a ton of emotions, especially depending on the different players,” McCourty said. “I sat through mine and I sat through my brother’s, so for me, it was watching 202 guys get drafted before me, and for (Devin’s) it was to watch 26 guys — a totally different experience but the emotions are similar.

“I remember for him he was a possible first round, possible second rounder, and as the first round dwindled down, he was getting nervous, anxious, whereas for me, when the draft dwindled down I was getting nervous, anxious, so it’s frustrating to watch so many guys go, but it kind of builds you up,” he continued. “For me, as a sixth-rounder coming in, I had a lot to fight for and a lot to prove, so I think that motivated me.”

McCourty recalled receiving phone calls from teams during the fourth and fifth rounds, but the person on the other end of the line said they were just making sure his phone was the right number and working. He said he’s heard some players say they’ve received calls from a team that is trying to occupy the phone line of the player.

“As the draft ends, you may get a coach that will call you and try to keep you and tie up your line and try to get you on a free agent deal, so a lot goes on behind (the scenes) but it’s an exciting time to be drafted and your dream come true,” McCourty said.

Guard Andy Levitre was a name McCourty heard ahead of him in the second round in 2009. Levitre signed with Tennessee this offseason after starting all 64 games in Buffalo. Levitre said he thinks handling a draft day is a good start to what’s required to be a professional in the sport.

“It’s exciting. You hear a lot of things, ‘It might be this round, it might be that round.’ Well, sometimes things don’t work out the way you hear, so it can be frustrating for some and it could be a lot more exciting for others,” Levitre said. “It’s just one of those days that you can’t let your emotions get to you. All the work you’ve done has been done, so you kind of let the cards fall where they may.”

Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley still vividly remembers the entire experience, from playing in the Senior Bowl, to attending the NFL Combine and participating in his pro day and making visits with teams. Wimbley said he heard from experts that he’d be a third-round pick, but he kept moving up the board until Cleveland selected him with the 13th overall pick in 2006. He is one of eight players on the Titans roster who were selected in the first round of previous drafts.

“I had the chance to talk to (ESPN draft analyst) Mel Kiper right after the Senior Bowl, and I was like, ‘Where do you think I’ll go?’ He gave me his thoughts, and as the draft got closer he changed from what he said in that conversation, but there were different things (affecting that),” Wimbley said. “You get a chance to raise your stock up with interviews, combine performance, Senior Bowl performance. I think a lot of people prep for it your whole life, and once it’s there, you just take advantage of it. At first, my grade came back, it was a third-round grade, and as the draft got closer, first round.”

Wimbley said he expects most prospects will have a general idea of where in the draft they will land and be able to enjoy the moment and what it will bring.

“I think it’s a life-changing moment for a lot of those players in the sense that they’ll be able to provide for their families and earn an income that can help them alter their family history and start a new chapter,” Wimbley said. “I think the NFL is a phenomenal opportunity for a lot of people. It also gives us a platform to do a lot of things in our community to be able to give back, and I just think it’s one of the greatest games to play.”

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